This morning I learned that my former neighbor, Jo the Factory Worker will be voting for McCain/Palin. Her husband Joe the Deli Worker is undecided but leans Obama/Biden. This should be a jolt to any Obama supporter because Joe and Jo’s demographic profile suggests that Sen. Obama should take their votes for granted. However, if the Obama camp could get past its fixation on skin color and class warfare, they’d understand that Jo and Joe’s attitudes, beliefs, and character would also lend them a natural attraction to the Republican ticket.
Jo and Joe earn less than $40,000 combined each year. First generation Americans of Mexican descent, they have three children ages ten to four and rent at the least desirable neighborhood in town. In the past four years, they’ve had their phone disconnected at least three times for failure to pay their bill. To my knowledge, they are not particularly religious.
Jo and Joe, just as my parents raised my siblings and me, value education for their children and expect them to excel in school. And also like my parents, to make ends meet Jo works days, Joe works nights, and grandma watches the children during shift overlap. They are proud and, aside from sending their children to Head Start for preschool, would not dream of accepting a handout.
We met Jo and Joe in late 2004 when we rented at their apartment complex while waiting take possession of our own home. A few weeks after we had moved out, Joe rang our doorbell. He had been walking our neighborhood looking for people who needed lawn care. Since my husband, a habitual late worker, hadn’t mowed the lawn in over ten days, the tall grass in our yard gave Joe reason to believe that we were potential customers. Joe explained that he hoped to start a landscaping business someday. (Mock that, Sen. Obama.) After discussing the matter with my husband, I hired Joe for the summer.
For the following two years we were stationed overseas, and Joe reliably took care of the yard in our absence. Now that my husband is an uber-commuter, Joe continues to provide weekly lawn service. Because he is busy with his full-time job and family life, we are still Joe’s only customers.
Given that Jo and Joe are struggling as it is, we are concerned about their fate if the economy tanks. So a few weeks ago, I asked Joe directly how his family is faring in the slowdown. Joe replied that all is fine. There have been some layoffs at the deli, but over the years, he has managed to “carve a place out” for himself and is not worried. In addition, the plant where Jo works, is doing well and exports to China and Italy have actually increased.
Then Joe gave me his very astute observations on the economy. He said that the economy is “like a roller coaster — it has its ups and downs, and you just have to ride it out.” He said that falling gas prices had given his family some immediate breathing room, and opined that bailout money should not be wasted on Wall Street when people like him would use it more responsibly.
Even though many liberal Democrats in effect wish to subjugate the working poor through entitlements, Jo and Joe are living proof that the America dream is alive and well, that there is no substitute for hard work, and that parents still teach their children that they must contribute to society. Hopefully Joe will swing over to the R column by Tuesday, but if not, Jo’s vote is one that Sen. McCain and Gov. Palin should be proud to have earned.
FINAL NOTE added on 5 NOV: Jo and Joe both voted McCain/Palin. The American Dream lives on.